The Environmental Protection Agency made available to the public on Sept. 12 a “Glyphosate Issue Paper: Evaluation of Carconogenic Potential” in which EPA cites a lack of evidence that glyphosate causes cancer.
This document establishes the rationale for re-approval of glyphosate use in the United States. The key finding is that glyphosate is “not likely to be carcinogenic to humans at doses relevant to human health risk assessment.” You can download the official paper as a PDF at this link.
EPA’s study challenges findings of the International Agency for Research on Cancer, which in March 2015 classified glyphosate as a “probable carcinogen.”
We’ll use this posting for updates from scientists and observers around the world who will undoubtedly comment on EPA’s rationale. Keep checking the story for those updates as they occur.
For starters, here are just three general observations which are commonly focused on those agency findings and the studies they choose to back up their findings:
1. Almost all the carcinogenicity studies are short-term, not evaluating years of exposure. For example, a 12-month study of rat or mice tumors may show little response in cancer rates. An extended study by a French research team lead by biologist Professor Gilles-Eric Séralini came under corporate attack when it showed significant tumor growth in lab rats with longer exposure to glyphosate and its associated “adjuvants.” Several years ago, a team of Midwest ag consultants met with USDA regulatory officials and asked them, “Where are the long-term health studies on glyphosate as it’s actually used, in the field?” The consultants receive no answer. “They USDA people just looked at each other and couldn’t refer us to any such study,” one member of the team tells us.
2. We haven’t seen any studies by a U.S. health agency including the Centers for Disease Control, EPA or other protectors of our health which are epidemiologically based. That means studying real-life relationships between cause and effect in a population, usually in a specified geographic area.
What’s needed is a series of regional studies to statistically test disease rates in people, and test the possible links to actual exposure from ordinary use of commercial glyphosate formulations. This would help detect the effect of the usual adjuvants in agriculture. Regions of heavy glyphosate use in Argentina and Sri Lanka, for example, would be a place to start. Studies in Sri Lanka associate elevated kidney disease rates where glyphosate is extensively used.
Most clinical studies with lab animals are also typically using only the sole glyphosate molecule, not the blend laced with adjuvants which makes glyphosate so powerful in cell metabolism. The U.S. approach to chemical safety is typically narrow and clinical, based on test animals for a few months.
And in a broader context, we’ve not seen any U.S. agency eager to find out what’s causing the parabolic rise in rates of most chronic diseases in the United States. This is the mega-crisis we face, far more devastating than the Zika panic. Researcher Nancy Swanson has documented this alarming trend; you can download her research paper at this link.
3. The question of carcinogenic effect is not the only health implication involved in long-term exposure to glyphosate and its adjuvants. The glyphosate molecule is a highly effective bactericide in very small amounts. One of glyphosate’s early patents was for use as a bactericide. Glyphosate’s impact on gut bacteria has been studied somewhat, but since “all disease starts in the gut” this effect should be an urgent goal of mainstream research.
Back in 2013, medical researchers were noting a sharp increase in hospitalizations of children with “inflammatory bowel disease.” These diagnoses include Crohn’s disease, which we’ve seen in our own local schools. One student — told that several years of drug treatment for Crohn’s had run its course and the next step is surgery — abruptly altered his diet to all organic, fresh and whole foods. His symptoms disappeared and did not return.
And before that, one of our farmer friends, Howard Vlieger of Maurice, IA worked with Australian scientist Judy Carmen to compare hogs fed GMO rations vs. non-GMO rations through an entire five-month finishing cycle. Evidence of stomach and gut inflammation showed up in the postmortems after normal slaughter of the animals. Judy Carmen’s website carries the entire study along with other work she and her colleagues have done.
Update Sept. 16: Today’s Saturday Essay in the Wall Street Journal describes — in a really excellent analysis — the importance of the microbial populations… the “biota”… which humans need for sound health. They note that FDA has constrained use of some chemicals, other than glyphosate, which are damaging to beneficial bacteria. But the physicians who authored the article don’t mention how glyphosate can change the mix of gut organisms, just as glyphosate does in the soil. There’s probably more research on how glyphosate impacts soil organisms than on how it impacts the biota in our digestive tracts.
Update Sept. 16: We asked independent scientist Anthony Samsel for permission to link to several of his peer-reviewed papers on this issue. Meanwhile, Dr. Samsel sent us an e-mail with some preliminary comments in regard to the EPA Glyphosate Issue Paper. Here is a shortened version of those comments: